Two lethal Middleweights look to stand out in an ultra-crowded division this Saturday (Aug. 21, 2021) when Jared Cannonier locks horns with Kelvin Gastelum inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. Viewers will also get to see Olympic wrestler Mark O. Madsen battle the inimitable Clay Guida, Chase Sherman trade Heavyweight leather with Parker Porter, and Vinc Pichel face fellow gritty Lightweight Austin Hubbard.
UFC Vegas 34 is well-matched card, but that doesn’t mean we can’t wring some value out of it. Let’s get going ...
What Went Wrong at UFC 265?
I definitely underestimated Song Yadong, who showed significant improvement in his well-deserved decision victory over Casey Kenney. My other assessments were thankfully more accurate, and we came out well ahead at the end of the night.
UFC Vegas 34 Odds For The Under Card:
Luis Saldana (-115) vs. Austin Lingo (-105)
Brain Kelleher (-170) vs. Domingo Pilarte (+150)
William Knight (-195) vs. Fabio Cherant (+168)
Bea Malecki (-160) vs. Josiane Nunes (+140)
Roosevelt Roberts (-145) vs. Ignacio Bahamondes (+125)
Ramiz Brahimaj (-125) vs. Sasha Palatnikov (+105)
Thoughts: There’s a whole helluva lot to work with here — Luis Saldana, Brian Kelleher, Ignacio Bahamondes and Ramiz Brahimaj all look like quality investments.
I’ll readily admit that Saldana and Austin Lingo had very different levels of success in their most recent bouts. Saldana needed a questionable decision to get past Jordan Griffin, while Lingo beat the absolute snot out of Jacob Kilburn. I like this style match up a lot more for Saldana, though. That’s because Lingo doesn’t pose the wrestling threat “The Native Psycho” does and is more deliberate with his pressure, which gives Saldana free rein to unleash his impressive kicking arsenal and piece up “Lights Out” from a distance.
Kelleher is one of the bigger favorites on the card, which really says something about the quality matchmaking at play. There’s value even at -170, though; while Domingo Pilarte has huge height and reach advantages, his leaky defense and inability to maintain distance will give the ultra-aggressive Kelleher plenty of opportunities to land punches and threaten takedowns. “Son of Fire” has been brutally dropped in two of his last three fights and allowed a very limited striker in Felipe Colares to constantly tie up on the fence, so expect Kelleher to find tons of success.
Both Roosevelt Roberts and Ignacio Bahamondes got cracked in their last fights, but I find Roberts’ loss more worrying than Bahamondes. Getting dropped by Kevin Croom — whom we subsequently saw flail his way to an uninspiring loss to Alex Caceres — isn’t as justifiable as getting touched up by a dangerous kickboxer in John Makdessi. Even if you consider that defeat flukey, Bahamondes has a wider and higher-volume striking attack than “The Predator,” plus the takedown defense to keep it on the feet.
Though we didn’t get to see any of Brahimaj’s ground game in his unsuccessful UFC debut against Max Griffin, it’s a potent weapon that figures to work wonders against Palatnkikov. The Hong Kong native usually relies on grinding opponents out, putting him in Brahimaj’s wheelhouse, and doesn’t figure to have a notable edge on the feet.
In short, I’d say Brahimaj is worth a look.
Just because I’d be cranky if I called the upset and didn’t recommend a bet, you might consider putting a bit down on Fabio Cherant as well. Strong as he is, William Knight has little to offer besides low kicks, overhand rights, and mediocre takedowns. Cherant is by far the better striker of the two, and so long as he doesn’t decide to oblige Knight with a ground fight, he can definitely win this one on the feet. A smidge on “Water Buffalo” makes sense.
UFC Vegas 34 Odds For The Main Card:
Jared Cannonier (-150) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (+130)
Mark O. Madsen (-170) vs. Clay Guida (+150)
Chase Sherman (-190) vs. Parker Porter (+165)
Vinc Pichel (-120) vs. Austin Hubbard (EVEN)
Alexandre Pantoja (-165) vs. Brandon Royval (+165)
Trevin Jones (N/A) vs. Saidyokub Kakhramonov (N/A)
Thoughts: Again, lots to work with here despite the close odds. Clay Guida is a decent underdog pick, while Vinc Pichel and Alexandre Pantoja have value as favorites.
If there’s one thing Guida still has, it’s cardio. For all his obvious decline, the man can still push an absolutely torrid pace. That looks like just the ticket against Madsen, who revealed some gas tank issues in his decision over Austin Hubbard. I like Guida to survive Madsen’s early takedown blitz and ultimately wear him down with scrambles and haymakers, so bank on it.
Hubbard’s wrestling just hasn’t been there in his UFC career. Practically everyone who’s wanted to take him down has done so, and that’s bad news against a big, strong grinder like Pichel. To make matters worse for Hubbard, “From Hell” isn’t likely to fade, so “Thud” can’t rely on his usual later-round surges.
In other words, Pichel strikes me as a safe pick.
I’m guilty of failing to give Brandon Royval enough credit. I didn’t think his berserker style would work in the Octagon, but it’s hard to argue with results. That said, Pantoja looks like a problem for him. “The Cannibal” is a terrific ground technician in his own right who’s held his own against high-level scramblers and looks to have the edge on the feet.
I’d say that’s worth an investment.
UFC Vegas 34 Best Bets:
- Parlay — Luis Saldana and Brian Kelleher: Bet $120 to make $236.40
- Parlay — Vinc Pichel and Ignacio Bahamondes: Bet $100 to make $312
- Parlay — Ramiz Brahimaj and Alexandre Pantoja: Bet $120 to make $226.80
- Single bet — Fabio Cherant: Bet $80 to make $134.40
- Parlay — Clay Guida and Brian Kelleher: Bet $80 to make $237.60
It’s a weird hodgepodge of a card, but I could literally see any one of these bouts going either way, so those of you who like competitive matchmaking are in luck. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 34 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET.
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